Friday, June 17, 2016

Hmmm, 136 years plus 16....

The H. L. Hunley has been sitting in a large container of water and chemicals for 16 years.

It's close to me, nearby, in a special lab, on the old Navy Base property.

Last Saturday, my brother and I decided to go take a look.

The last time I had seen the Hunley was from a distance, off the Battery, in 2000.

It had been partially buried on the ocean floor, just outside the harbor, for 136 years.

It had been found and raised carefully and that day was the star of an escort flotilla slowly passing by. Many of the boats were flying and waving a Confederate flag.

Now scientists would try to solve the puzzle of why she sank after being the first submarine to sink an enemy warship.

The Hunley was a secret weapon, used in an attempt to break the Union blockade of Charleston, during the Civil War.

This Hunley was the third try at an undersea battle.

The first two tests failed. Five were saved from the first sinking but all 8 crewmen aboard the second had drowned.

I quickly learned that the public is admitted only on Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 pm.

We look down from a raised platform at the vessel immersed in a solution.

This has been successful and much progress has been made in  removing decades of encrustation that built up on the metal parts.

*Both full-view photos of the before and after effects are pictures on display as part of the tour. The tank was filled so I had no chance for such shots.


Our well-informed tour guide Dave told us that during the week, scientists are working inside the drained enclosure.

They are carefully "chipping away" to bring the sub back closer to its original state 150 years ago. 

Dave added that school groups are brought through on weekdays and they may or may not see the tank emptied, depending on what efforts of restoration are being done.


A $20 gold piece, carried by Lt. George Dixon, skipper on that ill-fated voyage, was found among the remains of the crewmen.

The story was that he carried it as a good luck piece after it deflected a bullet during the Battle of Shiloh.

The actual coin is on display as an example of encrusted items found inside the Hunley, that are cleaned and preserved.

This was an easy photo to take.

Another item of interest was a uniform from the U.S.S. Housatonic, the unfortunate target of this new type of underwater warfare.

After being rammed with an explosive near the stern, the ship sank in less than 5 minutes.

Five Union lives were lost- probably at the blast site -  while the others clambered up the masts rigging. The water was only 25 feet deep where it sank.

My brother and I took turns sitting in the open-ended model.

We could grasp the handle that  turned the propeller, but both of us agreed we probably would not have been selected as a crew member because of our large...er, lungs.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for taking a cruise on the Hunley with us.

Call ahead and arrange to take the tour.

It's safe now to relive that voyage into history.
   









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Saturday, June 11, 2016

"Wish you were here...."

The new
North Charleston Mellow Mushroom greets you with a giant Vintage postcard.

It's message, in various forms throughout the new pizza eatery, is a profound "we are one."

Lean in closer to see the various little gems that were added by former Folly Beach artist Carl Janes.

All around are signs and symbols that we share a universe. Along with great pizza and craft beers.

Twelve clocks, showing various zones around the world, carry out the theme in a timely manner.


And, speaking of clocks, this newest of the Charleston Mellow Mushrooms, is the only one with an extra hour, a later bonus Happy Hour from 4-8 weekdays.

The new brightly-colored building is located near the Coliseum and the Performing Arts Center across from the Tanger Outlet stores in Centre PointeShopping Center.

I wandered over to a corner near the bar to check out a table made from an airplane wing.

I'm not sure if it came from Boeing, but I'm certain the new full-service restaurant is an added treat to the nearby aircraft workers, hotel guests, and patrons meeting before and after events and concerts.

Keep looking around the constructed-from-the-ground-up building and you'll see small, subtle reminders that you are near the Charleston International Airport.

The large postcard mural is painted over actual newspapers (find the crossword puzzle).

And, if you look closely, there even is a reminder that the owners are big Falcons fans*.

The open kitchen invites you to watch your pizzas and tasty calzones being made.

A very large staff throughout the restaurant ensures every diner's needs are being met by helpful, friendly, smiling faces.

Sitting at the long, long bar, you see familiar - and local - craft beers on tap.

I was told there are four bartenders and ample wait staff serving the bar area booths and tables.

I noticed the winking, blinking Disco Ball when I first entered.

Suspended from the ceiling, it is surrounded by 59 easily recognized classroom globes.

Another large touch by the artist/decorator Carl Janes.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

*And, here's a tip of the hat to team loyalty in a mural.

As I said, the huge postcard invites closer inspection.

Thank for stopping by my blog.

Be sure to drop into any of the Mellow Mushrooms to see more of the art of Carl Janes.

Oh, and try the House Special! Lots of meat and plenty of veggies.

I'll be there for Happy Hour.






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Sunday, June 05, 2016

Fats Waller Dance Party and the Gypsy Swingers...

Fats Waller threw a dance party and the joint (Cistern Yard) was jumpin'.

Jason Moran plays piano and keys while wearing a large colorful papier mache likeness of the 1930s Jazz and Stride pianist.

Moran is associated with the Kennedy Center for the Performing arts and created All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller in 2014.

This lively outdoor "dance party" involved vocalist Lisa E. Harris, and Donvonte McCoy, trumpet.

Also Charles Haynes, drums, and bassist Tarus Mateen.

Not to mention, the rest of his whole family: his wife and two young sons.

Eventually, performers from a nearby venue followed the music and rushed in to join the party on stage.

A few fans in the audience also ventured up to join in the dancin'.

I stayed in my seat, using the paper fan the ushers gave to all of us.

Well, and selecting shots with my camera.

The "lady in red" I think was an exuberant audience member.

She obviously felt she just had to express her musical joy of the evening under a cloudless sky.

Audience vocal sing-along participation was led mainly by vocalist Lisa Harris.

Jason explained he had been on the road several years ago when his sons had a recital.

He felt bad for missing it and, having them on the stage with him, was a "payback" he had planned for a few years.

Charleston was their debut, he added, smiling broadly.

Earlier in the afternoon I was at Palmetto Brewery's  Loading Dock series.

This was Asheville Pours On Huger Street and got my feet shuffling in somewhat dance moves with the GypsySwingers band.

Well, I was holding a beer and trying to take pictures!

The setting sun was in her eyes when Alina Quu started the set, but a few minutes later, she had her vision back.

Nice tight group and I am sure they are very popular in Asheville.

They made new friends here as 3-4 couples of local swing dancers took to the floor.


We had to duck out early so we could eat before the show at the Cistern Yard.

But we stayed until this band finished and the stage was cleared for another Asheville band
we had seen and liked before.

Siruis. B still had the "Little drummer boy" at the front of the stage, waiting patiently, drumsticks in his small hands, as his parents set up for their part of the show.

I noticed that both bands shared the talents of Ryan Kijanka on the upright bass.

A good day for outdoor activities.The incessant rain had stopped for at least a day.

Filled up with Chicken & Waffles at Rarebit on King and headed to the College of Charleston campus.

The evening dance party music was somewhat reminiscent of the 1930s Harlem "rent parties" Waller had played in people's home.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Just realized this is my 900th posting on this blog that I started 10 years ago.

Yikes, that's a lot of music, beer and travel.



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Friday, June 03, 2016

0 for 3 at Cistern Yard...

Arturo O'Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.

Originally planned as performing under the stars at the Cistern Yard on the campus of the College of Charleston.

My first Spoleto event of this, the 40th annual Festival of the arts, unfortunately, saw the use of the festival's rain backup plan.

Twice.

Both nights, storms would have ruined the music event.

Oh, the TD Arena is a nice venue.

And the sound was very good for a gym.

With an 18-piece orchestra - and a heavy grand piano - you can't just wait until the last minute to see if it really WAS going to rain.

I was going the second night and already knew it had been moved indoors the night before.

I salute the Festival staff for keeping a close watch on the weather.

It could have been a stirring outdoor evening but not at all feasible.

There is no covered bandstand over the Cistern and a thousand or so umbrellas and ponchos for the audience would have been challenging at best.

This was the right decision and the music was incredible!

On the left were 5 saxes (also clarinets and flutes), centered were 4 trumpets and on the right, four throaty trombones.

Leader O'Farrill played piano and stood to conduct several times, moving close to the bassist, two percussionists, and the drummer.

(Click on the photos and links for more details. The video clip is from another show, elsewhere.)

So far, at least one other Cistern act was moved to the TD Arena and the weather forecasters are warning us to expect more thunderstorms. Yikes.

Tonight I am indoors at Theater 99 for two improv comedy acts. More on that later.

Stay dry and enjoy Spoleto!


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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day...a Marine 56 years later.

 Memorial Day is tomorrow.

A day when we honor those who gave their lives while serving in the military.

I joined the Marines right after graduating from Bishop England high school in 1957.

Had no interest in any "more school" and joined the USMC to be one-up on my older brother who was wearing USAF blue.

Back then you could sign up for six months of active duty and then remain in the Reserves for 7.5 years, subject to call up.

Boot Camp at Parris Island (in July and August!) was sweaty but went ok.

Then advanced infantry training up at Camp Lejeune, NC felt comfortable.

All Marines are basically infantry.
I was lucky enough to be designated as a Combat Photographer (MOS 4641).

This just happened to be during a very peaceful time.

It was so good to be attached to the Base Photo Lab, Support Company B, Headquarters Battalion, that I re-enlisted for three years.

This also eliminated the many years of the Reserve requirement.

But, instead of combat, I was basically doing PR.

Snapping photos of Command Changes and medals being pinned on Marines.

Sometimes a funny thing would happen and I was there with my USMC-issued Speed Graphic.

Life was comfortable but I was getting antsy to do something more than covering parades and "grip & grins."

I wanted to be out in the field for more than a few hours with eager Reservists who came to LeJeune for two weeks of annual active duty training.

I was not involved in the 1958 invasion of Lebanon and heard the stories that the amphibious landing was greeted by bikini-clad bathers and soda pop vendors. Actually, though, some Marines were killed.

I finally got my chance to get away from the parade field and starched khakis late in 1959.

I volunteered to be assigned to a Tank Battalion as its photographer for several months.

I cruised for 7-days with them down to Vieques, a Navy-owned "training" island off the coast of Puerto Rico.

We did a pre-dawn landing, climbing down cargo nets into small landing crafts that zig-zagged toward the beach.

We set up tents as our sleeping quarters and I finally was in the field, training with an armoured aggressor force.

Dust, dirt and booming tank cannons were the everyday norm.

This was far from the spick and span Base Photo Lab.

There we sometimes spent hours, experimenting with posing and lighting formal portraits.

This was eating rations in the field and taking photos as dedicated tankers performed a variety of tests and maneuvers.

Instead of a prim uniform hat or cap, I now was getting used to wearing a steel pot, a camouflaged helmet.

And, smoking a lot of cigarettes, which were very inexpensive in Vieques.

Also, being pleased to see beer was ten cents a can and five rum & Cokes were made with just one 8-oz classic Coca-Cola.

Work hard and play even harder.

I learned from my fellow tankers that when someone didn't make the grade, training in endless-track machines, they were reassigned to become Tank Killers.

Proving the Marine Corps had a sense of humor, both groups frequented the same bar on base.

Yes, the MPs had to break up many discussions on the merits and safety of tanks.

Looking back a half century, I realize that if I had stayed with the 7.5 years in the Reserves, I might have been called up to active duty in the Vietnam war.

(Click on the photos and links for details.)

My time in the Corps convinced me that college was a good idea.








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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow!


Yes, tomorrow! The sun will come out tomorrow!

That's when Netflix starts streaming the new Adam Sandler film THE DO OVER. Yay!

Originally planned to go directly to DVD, this 2nd of 4 films for Netflix will be released for streaming to subscribers.

The "red band" final trailer is out now but does NOT include my short funny scene with the "Hospital Screamer".

The first short "teaser" trailer did verify the scene made it through the cutting room and into the finished film.

I have enjoyed watching my brief appearance as the startled "husband" of the screaming "wife," as we see a badly injured man stumble toward the Savannah hospital.

 Despite my fantastic dramatic action and look, stage presence, and stance, I am NOT credited.

Go figure?

Sheila Lynn Cochran is quite an actress and her VERY vocal scream catapulted her to a featured credit. I am chopped liver, but very happy for Sheila and her brief comedic role in her film career.

Tomorrow, I won't be on the "Silver Screen" but my 60-inch tv set presents a crisp, large image.

I'll be making some popcorn.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

Pretty obvious this is a "first" for me as I putter around as an extra or background artist in locally-produced tv shows like HBO's Vice Principals , Youtube's We Love You and CBS's The Inspectors.

Too bad I never tried out for Army Wives during its 7-year run here.

Maybe I'll look into working behind T-Rav and Southern Charm?


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Sunday, May 22, 2016

These little cars "bug" me....

My tiny collection of small model VWs started with the real deal. 


We actually pushed it off the showroom floor and it had only 8 miles on the odometer. This was my very first new car!

The salesman coached me as we drove around the block a few times to acquaint me with its manual stick shifting and, then, I drove it home to Burbank and parked it proudly in my driveway.
Did I mention it was a bright orange color and I had bought it on Halloween?

My clever daughter Amy suggested I leave a light burning inside the Beetle that night as the trick-or-treaters passed by...snickering.

The 1973-1975 Super VWs introduced the distinctive curved windshield. Regular Volkswagons continued to be manufactured during this time.

It was a fun car that I drove for well over 100,000 miles and eventually gave to my son.

Years later, I saw a most unusual small model of a VW that, apparently had been made into a martini glass. 

It did not have the Super Bug curved windshield but it whetted my appetite to find others.

Today there are 32 VWs displayed on a large table in my media room.

I would stop in shops as I traveled to seek out ones I didn't already have. Pure luck, I never bought a duplicate. 

I also never found one to match the color of my first real VW. 

Oh, wait a minute, as I was dusting these just now, I saw the elusive color on the "Space Flight" tiny version right in front!

Orange you glad I dust ever so often?

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

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